USC Beach Volleyball Alumna Kelly Cheng Wins FIVB Hamburg Elite 16
HAMBURG, GERMANY – Three-time USC beach volleyball All-American and Olympian Kelly Cheng (Fullerton, Calif.) won gold with partner Betsi Flint at the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) Elite 16 event on Sunday, Aug. 14.
Cheng—formerly Claes—claimed her third-career FIVB Pro Tour gold medal. Cheng-Flint—a pair that also won the AVP New Orleans Open this summer—dropped just one set to run the table and ascend to the top of the podium in Hamburg with a 6-0 record.
Cheng previously won two FIVB titles in 2021 with then-partner Sarah Sponcil (Russia and Czech Republic) to secure a selection as one of two pairs to represent the United States at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
In Hamburg, as the 10th-seeded pair, Cheng and Flint cruised to a 3-0 mark in pool play. They got started with a big win over the second-seeded Brazilian pair of Talita Antunes and Rebecca Cavalcanti, 25-23, 21-13. Cheng-Flint then took down Chantal Laboureur and Sarah Schulz of Germany in three sets, 20-22, 25-23, 15-13, in a tight battle. The first-set loss would prove to be the only frame Cheng and Flint would lose all tournament. Cheng-Flint wrapped pool play and a 3-0 record with a straight-set victory against Netherland's seventh-seeded pair of Raisa Schoon and Katja Stam.
Cheng and Flint earned a hard-fought 28-26, 21-16 win over Daniela Alvarez and Tania Moreno of Spain in the quarterfinal and then went on to defeat Germany's sixth-seeded duo of Karla Borger and Julia Sude, 21-17, 21-18, to forge ahead into the championship match. In the final, Cheng-Flint went straight sets again to knock off the Swiss duo of Nina Brunner and Tanja Huberli, 21-19, 21-18, for gold.
Under third-year head coach Dain Blanton, the USC beach volleyball team captured its fourth NCAA Championship (fifth national title) and fourth Pac-12 crown in 2022. The Women of Troy finished the year ranked No. 1 and had a record of 37-1 with a 36-match win streak intact at the end. USC added four AVCA All-Americans to its history books with the four-time selection of Tina Graudina as well as the third-career honor for Sammy Slater. Graudina was named the Pac-12's Player of the Year a third time and earned Pac-12 and AVCA Pair of the Year honors with partner Hailey Harward, who was also tabbed an AVCA All-American along with sophomore Megan Kraft.
For more information on the USC beach volleyball team, a complete schedule, and results, please visit USCTrojans.com/beach. Fans of the Women of Troy can follow the team on Instagram and on Twitter @USCBeach.